With their reputation on the line last Saturday, the St. Charles Preparatory School swimming team would not back down.

With their reputation on the line last Saturday, the St. Charles Preparatory School swimming team would not back down.

After finishing second to host Upper Arlington on Feb. 13 in a Division I sectional, the Cardinals rallied to edge out the Golden Bears 399.5 to 399 in the district competition at Ohio State.

"Our seniors hadn't lost a district meet and they didn't want to be the ones to lose the streak," said coach Geoff Gear, whose program has won five consecutive district championships and advanced to the state meet. The state meet began last Wednesday and concludes Saturday at Canton's Branin Natatorium.

The Cardinals clinched the championship in the next-to-last event -- the 100-yard breaststroke. Freshman Nick McKinley finished second in 59.13 seconds to sew up a state-qualifying spot, but senior Corey Taylor finished fifth in 1:00.00 for the additional points needed for the title.

"We clinched it with one event left. We knew we could finish second (in the final event, the 400 relay) and still win it," Gear said. "We told them that they didn't need to do anything spectacular, just go out and have a safe race. (Winning a district championship) was more important to them than winning that last race."

The 400 free relay of senior Sam Kocher, junior Orion Swanson, senior Jay Schuh and senior Sandy Whitaker finished second (3:08.09) behind UA (3:08.18) to seal the trophy.

"Winning a district in your senior year is a big thing," said Whitaker, a Minnesota signee. "We were underdogs, but we were able to get the district championship."

Whitaker won district titles in both the 100 backstroke (50.54) and 100 butterfly (49.16). He is the top seed at state in the 100 fly and third in the 100 back.

Sam Kocher was second (1:41.32) in the 200 free at district and is seeded third at state. He finished sixth (47.13) in the 100 free and seeded 14th at state.

"Just being an underdog was motivation enough (for district) and winning a district title puts us in a good spot," Kocher said. "We don't need to do anything different (this week). It's just another week of swimming."

McKinley is seeded 12th in the 100 breast and he also qualified in the 200 individual medley. His 1:59.13 is the 23rd seed. Taylor is seeded 15th in the 100 breast and 10th (1:56.96) in the 200 IM.

The 200 free relay of Taylor, Swanson, senior Mark Stechschulte and Kocher won a district title in 1:27.08 and is seeded third at state.

The 200 medley relay of Schuh, McKinley, junior Brian Willi and Whitaker was second (1:35.41) at district and is seeded fourth this weekend.

Also qualifying were Schuh in the 100 back (53.05, ninth seed); Swanson in both the 200 free (1:46.16, 21st) and 100 fly (52.22, 21st); and Willi in the 100 fly (52.03, 18th).

"Now this should put us at second in the state going in behind (Cincinnati St. (Xavier), which has a really good team," Whitaker said. "We still need to drop some time this week and that will help."

•The bowling team had one district qualifier in senior Jared Bobulski, who rolled a 597 to claim the ninth and final individual spot to advance to district on Saturday at H.P. Lanes.

"I wasn't sure I was going to make it," said Bobulski, who was the program's first district qualifier last season. "When they read the eighth name (Charles Yancey of Pleasant) and he had a 606, I thought for sure someone else would be between his score and mine."

In the sectional last Friday at Rainbow Lanes, the Cardinals finished 19th out of 29 teams with 3,377. Zanesville (4,022) won the event with the other district-qualifying teams being Newark (3,968), Westerville South (3,944), Circleville (3,879), Gahanna (3,875), Gran-ville (3,846), Unioto (3,804), Jonathan Alder (3,793) and Delaware (3,785).

"Jared really did a good job," coach Mike Warner said. "He's been here twice before and has advanced, so he knew we could be competitive here."

Bobulski was 23rd overall, rolling 225 in his first game, 181 in the second and 191 in the final game of the series.

Senior Vinny Spahr was next for the Cardinals with a 531 (179-179-173). He tied for 53rd overall with Tyler Russell of Circleville.

"Vinny was very, very consistent (at sectional) and the same with Jared," Warner said. "Consistency is very important at tournaments like this."

Sophomore Zak Stephenson was third for St. Charles with a 474 (171-152-151) to take 87th overall. Senior Brian Merkle had 281 (161-120) for the Cardinals and junior Josh Bruggeman added 250 (137-113). Junior Nick Pirik (128) and senior Mike Cianflona (105) each rolled one game.

Last year at district, Bobulski rolled a 482 to finish behind the third and final individual state-qualifier, Hartley's Tim Eichhorn (715).

The top three teams at district and the top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament March 5 at Shawnee Lanes in Chillicothe.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the St. Charles basketball, wrestling and hockey teams:


Feb. 17 -- Defeated Watkins Memorial 69-28 in makeup from Feb. 8 and Feb. 15. Dane McLoughlin scored 20 points and Pat McAllister added 12 points. Joe Spahr and Terrance Harrell added eight points apiece.

*Last Friday -- Lost to Ready 54-45. McAllister scored 23 points and Matt Harbrecht added eight points.

Last Saturday -- Def. Springfield Catholic 48-45. McLoughlin scored 18 points, Jason Crea added 14 points with three 3s and McAllister had nine points.

Last Wednesday -- Played Delaware in a first-round Division I district game. The winner will play eighth-seeded Marion-Franklin at 6:15 p.m. Saturday at Hilliard Bradley. The Red Devils won the City League-South and were 15-4 overall after falling to Northland 65-52 in the City Championship last Saturday. The second-round winner will play at 11:45 a.m. March 6 in the Fairgrounds Coliseum against Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Darby, Columbus West or third-seeded Westerville South.

Of note: The Cardinals were 7-13 overall before last Wednesday and finished 1-9 in the CCL.


Last Friday-Saturday -- Finished third (150.5) of 13 teams in the Division I sectional at Pickerington Central behind Olentangy Liberty (260) and Mount Vernon (194) and ahead of fourth-place Marion-Franklin (130). The top four in each weight class advanced to district Friday and Saturday at Hilliard Darby. Robert DeJaco (152 pounds) and John Mackessey (160) were champions. Adam Suhr (103), Kevin Colvin (119), Daniel Latz (135) and Ryan Sanders (189) were third and Kevin Cook (145) was fourth. The top four at district at each weight advance to state on March 4-6 at Ohio State.

*CCL contest


Last Sunday -- Lost to Upper Arlington 4-2 in a second-round district game. The Cardinals were seeded seventh and had a first-round bye. Charles Lacasse and Tyler Brady scored and Connor Lenhart had 29 saves.

Of note: The Cardinals finished 22-9-2 overall and 9-4 in the CHC behind champion Olentangy Liberty at 12-1.

*CHC contest